I’ve made some progress so far in my project. My goal was to finish a first draft of a short, approximately 100-page novel by the end of the project. I made myself a goal of writing one page per day. The way I keep track of this is with a tracker in my bullet journal, where I colour in a square every day I write at least 1 page. Since January, when I began writing, I have amassed 55 pages of writing in total, not all of which is usable content.
I have to admit that for the past week, I have not been meeting my goal of a page per day, because I slacked off for a weekend, and then the week after I was busier than I expected (confirming reservations, going back into Math 10 instead of Planning, starting to have more Socials homework, completing my Drawing and Painting 11 assignment)…So there was around 5 or 6 days where I did no writing at all. In my mind I did some thinking and developing, but none of that made it onto the page. I felt guilty after not meeting my goal, but I know I shouldn’t be too hard on myself because previously I was writing more than one page a day, and hey, writer’s block is a thing that exists, right?
I also realize I have given no context to my “””””novel””””” (note the quotation marks, because this is nowhere near as good as a novel should be). My story centers around a 17 year old girl named Asia who is currently in high school. She idealizes the life of her best friend, May, who lives in New York. It follows her story as she struggles to navigate school, her parent’s childish divorce, and her emotional wellness.
Here’s an excerpt:
I unpack my bag onto my bedsheets. Pull out my textbook. My notebooks. My pencil case. Screw it. I shake out everything from my gum to my headphones, and look at the mess I’ve made, a pile of dead tree flesh (paper), and old snack bar wrappers. Looking at this pile, it would seem like I do a lot of work. But in reality?
I select a few key items and put them back in. Gum. Headphones. Wallet. On second thought, a notebook and a few pencils. Just in case I need them for…something.
I stride into my dad’s room and lift up the side of the mattress, trying not to make much noise, even though there’s no one home. It’s right there – the plastic bag where he keeps our passports. I unzip it and slip out two passports. I open the first one – my dad’s sullen face looks back at me, and I slip it back in. The second is me, a lot more bright-eyed and short-haired than I am now.
I zip the bag back up and squeeze it back under the heavy mattress.
With my passport safely stowed in the internal pocket of my backpack, I lift up my suitcase and haul it down the stairs. My steps are heavy as I make my way with obstructed vision to the front door.
“What’s that for?”
I stop and turn slowly. I can see the side of my dad’s face from where he sits on the living room couch. “I thought you were at work.”
“And I didn’t know you needed a suitcase for school.”
“It’s for a project,” I invent on the spot. “We -”
“Oh, look at the time,” my dad says suddenly. “You’re going to be late. Go, go, go.” He gets up and opens the door for me. I stumble through and place down the suitcase, letting it roll behind me.
He’s right about that. I am going to be late for school.
Seven days too late.
Can I be honest? I’m not happy with what I’ve written – it’s realistic/contemperary fiction and it truly does not feel like my story is going anywhere. I think it’s because I’m aware that there’s someone reading this, and I’m trying very hard to pretend that no one is to write more genuinely. I think I might change the plot from what I intended before.
My most difficult mentoring challenge so far is determining what exactly I want from the relationship. Because this is a writing project and is different from projects like learning a new language or learning how to bike, what I receive from my mentor is a bit different and difficult to determine. So far, my mentor has been acting as an editor/advisor. I need to have questions to ask my mentor in order to receive appropriate feedback. However, since I am not yet done a first draft and am following a ‘freewriting’ method of writing, I’m not sure what advice to want to receive, as my story is still developing.
Something that is working well in our mentoring relationship is that when I do ask questions, my mentor always has a good answer. He has specific, understandable, and helpful answers. Currently though, his advice is just to do as much writing as possible. He claims that his first drafts for novels are usually around the same (terrible!) quality that mine is at right now, so I can be loose with my writing. In a separate document, I am taking notes on questions I want to ask him, such as how to develop a certain character.
What could be working better is the amount I’m getting out of my mentor. I need to work on my ability to ask questions. I really don’t know in what ways I need help, therefore my mentor can’t help me as much as he probably could.